It's that time of year when outdoor cannabis gardeners get to enjoy the fruits of their labors and bring in the marijuana harvest. Of course, if you grow indoors, you likely get to experience the thrill and joy of harvesting your marijuana crop many times in a year.
Regardless of where and how you grow, every experienced cannabis cultivator knows that they can't truly count a crop as successfully finished until AFTER is it dried and properly cured.
Until then things can go wrong.
I speak from personal experience when I say there are few things more heartbreaking than to gaze on what was a big beautiful jar of perfectly manicured nugs that are now covered in mold.
Prepare in advance, including having the essential cannabis harvesting tools on hand before you begin the cannabis harvesting process.
Even if nothing dire happens, taking the time to properly harvest and cure your cannabis will reward you with far better quality weed. The differences can be dramatic, especially when it comes to flavor and the smoothness of the smoke.
Organizing for the Marijuana Harvest
To increase your chances of a successful cannabis harvest and to keep the job as stress-free as possible, be sure to organize in advance:
- Set up your drying space -- hang lines or drying racks, set up fans, humidity control, etc.
- Clear and clean your trimming workspace
- Have clean tarps handy to set plants on and to catch trimmings
- Arrange for some friends to come and help, harvesting cannabis is a BIG JOB
- Have the proper accessories and tools for the cannabis harvest on hand before harvest day comes
Essential Marijuana Harvest Tools and Accessories
Disposable Gloves -- Unless you like having sticky hands, have plenty of disposable gloves on hand for your trimmers and for anyone handling the plants.
Tarps -- Have clean tarps to lay the cut plants on while you trim and ready the branches for drying. Yes you could lay plants on a clean sheet or blanket, but leaves and trimmings tend to stick to fabric, so a tarp just works better.
Heavy Duty Garden Shears -- How heavy duty will depend on the size of your plants, but many outdoor gardens grow monsters that will require substantial torque to cut them down.
Trimming Scissors -- A good pair (or better yet several pairs) of spring-loaded, ergonomic trimming scissors are a must for any harvest. Straight tip or curved is a matter of personal preference. I tend to lean towards curved tipped trimming scissors as I like the extra control they give when manicuring delicate sugar leaves and buds.
90 Plus Proof Alcohol -- High proof rubbing alcohol of 90% or more (find it at your local drugstore) will help clean scissors, hands, and anything else covered in sticky resin.
Hanging Drying Racks -- If you are short on space to dry your crop, consider these handy hanging drying racks. They're lightweight, velcro onto any hanging rod, and provide for lots of air flow. For a small amount of real estate, they hold a LOT of drying cannabis. When not in use, they fold up for compact storage.
Portable Fans -- Portable fans will keep the air moving and help your newly harvested cannabis dry.
Humidifier or Dehumidifier -- You may or may not need to adjust the humidity in your drying room. If you live in an extremely dry climate, a humidifier can help things from drying too quickly. Conversely, if you live in a humid climate, a dehumidifier may be necessary to help the drying process. Ideally, you are aiming for 50-60% percent humidity in the drying room.
Essential Cannabis Storage Accessories
Once your cannabis is dried, it will need to be cured. Curing refers to the process of slowly removing the moisture from the plant and preserving the volatile terpenes -- the chemical compounds in plants that give them their aromas (terpenes also have medicinal effects).
Proper curing will allow you to store your cannabis harvest, long-term, without the fear of mold. Proper curing also preserves potency. While a lab test might have shown a little loss, I have smoked some highly potent, well cured, 4-year-old weed that seemed every bit as potent as when it was new. I am not recommending you hold on to your stash that long as cannabis does not improve with long aging. However, if you do, know that it is still perfectly usable.
This article is not a tutorial on curing and cannabis storage, but rather about the tools and accessories to help you store your properly cured cannabis for maximum shelf life.
Boveda -- These little packets work like magic and are a must for long-term cannabis storage. Put a packet in your jar and you have turned that jar into a small humidor with automatic 2-way humidity control. Meaning regardless of whether the climate where you live is too dry or too moist, inside your jar of marijuana, you will always have perfectly controlled humidity. I like to use the 62% for freshly harvested cannabis.
Boveda packs are inexpensive and last a LONG time (ours from last season are still going strong). It's almost silly NOT to invest in a few Boveda packs, even if you do nothing else.
Whether you grew it yourself or you buy from a dispensary, you can protect your investment in your cannabis stash by putting small Boveda packs in your storage jars.
Cannavault -- While they are a little pricey, it's hard to find better storage than Cannavault Portable Humidors. You put a lot of time, effort, and expense into your cannabis garden, so it makes no sense to skimp when it comes to storage.
Made of food-grade stainless steel, these containers will last a lifetime. Cannavaults are lightweight, stackable, and come in a variety of sizes. They're also smell-proof, and there's even a place to keep a Boveda packet on the underside of the lid.
Infinity Jars/Dark Glass Jars -- I am always on the hunt for dark glass jars at thrift stores and garage sales. They make great cannabis storage containers that protect your stash from harmful UV light. That's why premium cannabis, such as Swami Select, always comes packaged in dark glass jars.
Granted my hunts for low budget dark glass do not always yield big results. If you find yourself in a similar situation, check out Infinity Jars for a high-quality new alternative. The opaque black glass will keep things protected from light damage (add a Boveda pack to keep it humidity controlled) while storing your stash in style.
If you don't have dark glass, I still recommend glass jars with a Boveda pack for cannabis storage, just keep them tucked away in a dark cabinet when not in use.
Make Use of Those Trimmings!
Waste not want not. All those trimmings from your plants make Awesome Edibles or Cannabis Topicals. I have two comprehensive online courses that show you how to do both. Check them out at the links below
- Easy Cannabis Cooking for Home Cooks -- Everything you need to know to make great tasting edibles, perfectly dosed for your needs and health conditions. Also includes my "Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Gummies" online course.
- Easy DIY Cannabis Topicals and Skincare -- Learn to make healing salves, body butter butter, massage oils, bath bombs and bath soaks, lip balm, speed sticks, rollerballs, sexual lube, and more, all infused with the healing power of cannabis.